The iPhone is nearly a year old now and mine no longer seems novel. I'm sure a lot will be written in a few weeks, so I just want to make a few observations now.
° A lot of people have predicted the failure of the device, but it seems to be doing well and is growing beyond the fanboy base.
° AT&T is a terrible provider where I live
° there are better phones on the market
° the iPhone is not a phone or even a smart phone. A better way of looking at it is that it is a watershed portable computer that is cleverly disguised as a phone that you carry around wherever you go.
The last point is most important. A lot of people don't really see what it is and that it really is revolutionary. For about five years my HCI Department at AT&T Research was partly focused on what happens when computing is ubiquitous - ubicomp. We dreamt up, invented and prototyped services and devices and it was, quite frankly, the largest diamond covered technical beach I've encountered. So much promise, but it needed to be populated with very small computers that happened to have an Internet connection and the knowledge of where they are. The iPhone doesn't do real positioning well, but give it about a year. The gps chip sets are almost ready. Then we have a really remarkable device. A pretty good UI, good UX, a connection to the Internet (that will improve over time - so called 3G networks are out there now and there are roadmaps to much better. sadly telcos rules this sphere and they are both plodding and overpriced), a knowledge of position, a camera, and a power sipping computer with roughly the memory and power of something that was on your desktop 7 or 8 years ago.
Apple may be a bit caught by surprise. At first the notion was to have a few Apple-built (or under partnership) apps on the device with developers encouraged to build webapps. Gack that sucks for so many reasons from AT&T to inefficiency to glacial web standards. They made a huge course chance a few months ago and now native apps are supported on the device. A lot of people are carping, but the programmers out there are coding and there will be great things. I guarantee that as I've walked on that diamond filled beach.
Looking back about a year I can comfortably say
The iPhone isn't a phone or even a smartphone.
It is a computing device with net and position awareness that lives with you...
It reduces the phone to an app...
Looking ahead four years to the point Jobs predicted competitors would catch up I see some carnage. Many of those who understand telephony may understand telephony, but that isn't the game anymore. Many of them will go out of business. New players will emerge from nowhere - folks with computational backgrounds. Apple is pretty sharp. My bet is they will still be a major player. Maybe not the dominant player, but a major player. I'm certainly not selling my AAPL stock.
This is really going to be huge. In scale it is will be bigger than PCs as so many more will carry them everywhere and that wonderful only partly glimpsed beach of ubicomp is a fundamental change in how we deal with information.
strap in, the ride is just starting!